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Magnolia - Con Fuoco CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.74 | 22 ratings

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5 stars "Con Fuoco" - fiery, impetuous, with vigor and speed ( used as musical direction)

Roman band, Magnolia has been around since 1994. Early on Magnolia bounced around without a true identity. Yet, Magnolia had enough moxy to attract Steve Rothery's attention. Even so Magnolia faded away around the millennium. However, they found themselves in 2010. Released their debut album in 2012, ''La Zona D'Ombra'' which is based on the story of David Hicks, a young black man who was executed in Texas in 2000.

"Con Fuoco" fans the Social Justice flames as Magnolia blossoms. Each subsequent listen endears me, as "Con Fuoco" becomes more precious to me. Definite grower. Chiara Gironi's mezzo soprano dominates Magnolia's mid tempo aggressive "heart on sleeve" attack-against-the-machine, interspersed, English and Italian PBS radio broadcasts propel the narrative.

The opening song "Con Focuo" finds keyboardist - Donatella Valeri's dramatic piano dropping rain and ushering "Chiara Gironi's dirge vocal. Mourning the death of freedom, family and small towns? Sudden interruption... Breaking bulletin! "Occupy Wall Street."

Guitarists "Alessandro di Cori" and "Bruno Tifi" begin "Rivolta" grinding out a washing machine like riff shattered by Gironi's passionate siren complaint. Feel the excitement that young folk feel before a battle, a protest, a romance.

"They tied a rope around our necks,

To keep us on a very cool leash,

They fed us well, fattened us up

Just to slaughter us at the right time

Too many cardboard revolutions

Have left us with no Bread and no Roses"

Chiara Gironi sings in Italian. Magnolia were kind enough to include an English translation. I wish more Italian bands would follow suit. I include some but not all lyrics with this review. The lyrics mirror the music and emotion oozing from Con Fuoco. Although Magnolia reference (USA, Isreal, and Palastine) Con Fuoco is anchored in Italian blood, roses, and wine. An Italian folksy accordion begins "La citta della notte" followed by a soft hypnotic acoustic guitar and a gorgeous vocal melody! Oh, its so beautiful and uplifting-

"Blood drying on broken windows

Blood clotting up in our thoughts

Our country, it's sold its soul,

Now helpless it stands, watching

As State tortures go on

In dark, gloomy barracks

Remember who we were..."

Claudio Carpenelli "drum fills" add spice then metastases into a somber military rhythm radiating sadness. Shivers run up my spine every time. "The forth song "Gea" clues me into why Magnolia piqued Steve Rothery interest. The atmospheric guitars float along and sting like Rothery's distant Sicilian cousin. "Gea" flashbacks to ancient Italy. The cradle of civilization and lost glory, and history...

"On my shores Philosophy was born

From here rose Classical Art and its ancient beauty

Its sober, quiet greatness,

Its noble simplicity I am the cradle of Freedom

I am the Alpha of Civilization

I am the soul of a lost world,

A world reborn inside you These ancient roots never wither and never die,

And if you try to cut them, you will hear them screaming..."

No matter our politics or world view, eventually we want to experience love and passion. The album cover of Con Fuoco sports a young couple "holding hands" fleeing towards an uncertain future. Will their love hold them together. The song "Syrma" finds our hero and heroine commiserating and making vows to each other...

"No tongue, no code in the world

Can lead them to Your name

Only I could betray You

But You know I won't give You up

They shout, they make loud noises,

To try and break me down,

Ruthless as crows they are

But they truly fear us. I am a fly trapped in amber"

Chiara Gironi vocals make me believe love and passion will win. Can power and money buy youth and La Dolce Vita? Can the bankers, politicians, fake T.V. personalities feel the "ardor and intensity and fervor" of youth in love? Young people in love "bask in the knowledge" that the old rich can't possibly feel what they feel. How ironic, the greatest love story in the English language concerns Italian teenagers in love?

A disembodied voice of a documentary speaks of the East German secret police. However, the sixth song "Stati" poignantly points out the limitations of a police state, a shadowy secret force... Gironi forlorn vocals float along on Donatella Valeri's sad piano...

"You can count my steps, You can check what I wear.

You can take note of anything My friends say or do.

You can bind my thoughts and ideas To the rhythm of your breath But you cannot be me..."

...And then Gironi's mournful "Ahhhs" and " Ohhh's" fill the sky beneath foreboding guitar riffs coupled with fleshy sweat laden leads. "Simone Papale's bass is the landscape of Roman hills and ancient roads our heroes tread. Papale's is the pace and breath exhaled and inhaled. "Con Fuoco" is flesh and bone... Soldier's hobnailed jackboots pound pavement amid Wailing Wall moans bewitching "Terre di mezzo". What social justice manifesto would complete without borders? And is there a more contentious and famous border than....

"Where are you going, my brother from Palestine?"

"I'm going to meet my new friends,

We'll plant new crops in new lands,

We'll set our hopes free"

How many truths, how many?

How many Wailing Walls?

Somehow Magnolia grafts an Middle East olive branch onto their Italian western roots. The entire band pitch in and blend Middle East with Italian. The music mirror the lyrics. 5...4...3...2...1...Liftoff- " Luna del Viandante - (The Wander's Moon) a three part epic ending our Journey. Finds out hero and heroine lovers returning. We all return...

"Con Fuoco's journey. Pt.1 (Stanze)

Part 1 ROOMS

It is so strange to return here after so long

you last saw this house a long time ago, now you can't recognize it anymore.

Only melancholy remains in these empty rooms ?


Someday you too will become a photograph,

you'll fade to yellow inside a book, you'll lie forgotten in a hotel room

And at night I'll dream of you walking beside me


And at least one memory, if not all of them, has left us with something

But where is it now? When did it go? why isn't it coming back?

What is certain is that it has been?

More than the half of you."

Con Fuoco can only be judged after multiple listening sessions. The way some people become more and more beautiful as you get to know them. My grade rose from 4 stars to 4 1/2 stars. However, I'll round up to 5 stars because Magnolia have stars in their eyes. Con Fuoco is an album you fall in love with. I fell hard. My heart swells. Magnolia looked for moments and found "la dolce vita". We all look for moments.

omphaloskepsis | 5/5 |


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